Big Bend Ranch State Park to Host Fiesta Nov. 14

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PRESIDIO, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hopes the third time will be the charm for a daylong Fiesta set for Saturday, Nov. 14, to celebrate expanded recreational opportunities at Texas’ largest and wildest state park — Big Bend Ranch State Park.

The public is invited to learn first-hand about the many wonders of the more than 310,000-acre state park tucked into the far southwestern corner of the state during a free, daylong Fiesta at the park’s Sauceda Ranger Station. Two previous attempts to hold the outdoor celebration had to be cancelled when the Rio Grande uncharacteristically flooded the Presidio area in fall of 2008 and again in May of this year when nearby Mexico suffered an outbreak of the new H1N1 flu, sometimes inaccurately referred to as swine flu.

Saturday’s "open house" will feature a free barbecue lunch at noon, followed by a performance by cowboy singer-songwriter Dennis Jay. Activities being offered include park tours, hikes, guided mountain bike and horseback rides, desert survival and camping demonstrations, a student art show, Buffalo Soldiers encampment and informational displays on everything from bats to river recreation. One guided tour will go into part of the recently acquired Fresno Ranch, a significant and strategic 7,000-acre addition to the park featuring wild canyons, stunning vistas, historical roads, rich riparian habitat and Rio Grande frontage.

Park rangers, as well as natural and cultural resource specialists, will be on hand to share information about this true wilderness park in the Big Bend Country’s scenic Chihuahuan Desert highlands.

The purpose of the Fiesta is to increase awareness of the state park’s greatly expanded public use opportunities and to provide Texans, especially local citizens, a chance to visit and experience one of the great parks of the West.

Thanks to the labors of park staff and friends during the past two years, today’s adventurers now have more opportunities to hike, bike and ride horses along many miles of newly accessible trails and jeep roads, and much greater access to more than 50 new campsites, many of them in the more rugged, remote and scenic areas of Big Bend Ranch’s backcountry.

Information booths will be open and special Fiesta programs running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Special pre- and post-Fiesta tours, as well as "early bird" tours beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, will be offered by advanced reservation. The regular $3 park entry fee for persons 13 and older will be waived Thursday, Nov. 12 through Sunday, Nov. 15. 

Visitors attending Fiesta weekend can make arrangements to stay overnight, but should be aware that there are limited tent camping options. Camping is free during the Nov. 12-15 time frame, but reservations are required. No lodging will be available at Sauceda.

To reserve a campsite during Fiesta weekend, call Big Bend Ranch State Park at (432) 358-4444. To reserve a spot on one of the Fiesta event tours, call TPWD’s Customer Service Center in Austin at (512) 389-8908 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. To learn more about the state park and Fiesta activities online, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Web site.

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